Dead cadet’s father disappointed with court ruling

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Judge ruled that the murder charge should be reduced to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Disappointment was written all over his face as Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain’s father related how the family felt after hearing the High Court decision that the culprits who killed his son were convicted of a lesser charge instead of murder, which would have seen them being sent to the gallows.

“It is difficult for me to express how I feel but honestly I am disappointed that they only got 18 years for killing my son,” Zulkarnain Idros said after the High Court sentenced six Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) cadets to 18 years’ jail for causing Zulfarhan’s death.

Eizairi Shamsudin/NST

Zulkarnain, 57, said the only comforting thing was that the family had been told that the prosecution would appeal the High Court decision.

“We will be following the case closely,” he said.

The six who were convicted of causing Zulfarhan’s death were Muhammad Akmal Zuhairi Azmal, Muhammad Azamuddin Mad Sofi, Muhammad Najib Mohd Razi, Muhammad Afif Najmudin Azahat and Mohamad Shobirin Sabri, while Abdoul Hakeem Mohd Ali was charged with abetment in the murder.

They were initially charged with murder, but judge Datuk Azman Abdullah ruled that the murder charge should be reduced to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

In his judgment, Azman said the court found no intent to murder after looking at the defence as a whole.

Therefore, he said the court found them guilty of a lesser charge of culpable homicide.

Azman ordered the sentence to run from their date of arrest.

In reading his judgment, Azman said these sentences were crucial to educate the public and to deter such incidents, especially with the grim circumstance that led to Zulfarhan’s death where he was branded 90 times with a steam iron.

“I look at the punishment as something that must be done so that the pain will deter such incidents from occurring again.

“I could not imagine how it must have been because it would have hurt if the steam iron hit your hand…imagine it on one’s sensitive parts?

“Although you are young offenders, your action is just like a hardcore criminal. I empathise with the regret and sadness your parents must have felt.

“I feel sorry for your family members because of your actions. If you had not done it, you would have been officers in the armed forces today,” the judge said prior to sentencing.

Meanwhile, the group – with the exception of Mohamad Shobirin – and together with 12 others were found guilty of voluntarily causing hurt to Zulfarhan to extort a confession from him over a laptop theft.

“The defence has failed to raise reasonable doubt where the prosecution had proven its case against them.

“You are all found guilty under Section 330 for causing hurt on the deceased to get a confession from him,” the judge said.

The other 12 accused are Mohd Hafiz Fauzan Ismail, Mohamad Lukhmanul Hakim Mohd Zain, Ahmad Shafwan Berdal, Muhammad Amirul Asraff Mala, Luqman Hakim Shamsuri, Muhammad Sufi Mohd Mustapha, Noriznan Izzairi Noor Azhar, Muhamad Ashraf Abdullah, Muhammad Danial Firdaus Azmir, Muhammad Hasif, Muhammad Adib Iman and Mohamad Syazwan.

For the offence under Section 330, Azman sentenced each of them to three years in jail from the sentencing date.

For the five who were convicted for both Section 304(a) and Section 330, Justice Azman ordered for the jail terms to run concurrently.

The court also allowed a stay of execution for the offenders convicted under Section 304 pending appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Earlier, Zulfarhan’s mother Hawa Osman took the stand to read her Victim Impact Statement.

The 58-year-old said the case had affected her and her family.

“My health deteriorated. I suffer from a serious cataract because I can’t stop crying.

“I have high blood pressure because I can’t sleep at night,” she said.

Hawa said she was so traumatised that until today, she found it difficult letting her other children leave home without worrying about their safety.

Hari Anggara

“I want a sentence that fits the crime and that could serve as a lesson for society so that this incident won’t happen to other parents,” she said.

Hawa also told the court that she suffered from prolonged sadness over the loss of her firstborn.

She said that she and her husband had counted on Zulfarhan to take care of them in their twilight years.

Zulkarnain said even though he accepted Azman’s ruling, the accused should face the mandatory death sentence.

“My family was disappointed when the court sentenced them to jail instead of ordering them to be hanged.

“We still have a long way to go in order to get justice for our son…however, we will wait for the appeal at the highest courts,” he said.

Zulkarnain, however, said that deep in his heart, he had forgiven all of the accused.

“It is hard for me, but I believe that is the best thing to do so that I can have peace in my heart. However, I am disappointed that nobody from their family came to us to apologise on behalf of their sons.

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“Only one family came to apologise but the rest always tried to avoid us whenever we met in court during proceedings,” he said.

Earlier, Zulkarnain said he postponed his heart surgery just to attend today’s proceedings.

“I am supposed to undergo a bypass surgery but decided to postpone it as attending court to hear the judgment was more important to me,” he said.

Zulkarnain and his wife, Hawa Osman, 58, appeared in court in a matching dark blue shirt with “Justice for Farhan” written on them. Both of them have never missed the trial since day one of proceedings.

Throughout the trial, which began on Jan 29, 2018, a total of 31 prosecution witnesses and 20 defence witnesses were called to take the stand.

All the accused were ordered to enter their defence on July 31, 2019, after the court found that the prosecution had succeeded in establishing a prima facie case against them.

The six, together with 12 others now aged 25, had allegedly committed the offence inside a room at the Jebat Hostel Block, UPNM, between 2.30am and 5.30am on May 21, 2017, and in the same room between 1.30am and 4.30am on May 22, the same year.

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Zulfarhan was found with burn marks and bruises in an apartment in Serdang about 8pm on June 1, 2017, and was pronounced dead about 10pm at the Serdang Hospital.